April 23, 2009

  • Bush-era torture warnings ignored
  • Mortgage reform debate on Capitol Hill
  • UCLA animal researchers, supporters, hold “pro-test” on campus
  • Animal rights activist makes FBI’s most wanted terrorist suspect list
  • California tribe sues for destruction of cultural sites
  • Life for Pakistani migrants in Dubai

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Detainees on hunger strike over conditions in TX Immigration facility
A hunger strike is underway in a South Texas detention center, where immigrants are demanding a meeting with federal officials to discuss conditions, and their right to due process.  FSRN’s Renee Feltz reports:

Not far from the Mexican border, the Port Isabel detention center houses more than a thousand immigrants awaiting deportation hearings. After months of complaints about conditions, 70 detainees began a hunger strike on Tuesday, and by this morning that number grew to 200 people.

“They think there is no constitution in this country.”

Catherine Yee has been in touch with her loved one who is participating in the hunger strike. She says he’s protesting being held in detention for 6 months with no access to legal assistance:

“ICE sent him from Maine to Boston to New Hampshire and now Texas – he can’t even get notify his attorney.”

An ICE spokesperson told FSRN all detainees are accepting food trays.  Advocates say striking detainees are taking the food, but not eating it.  Their demands include a meeting with Dora Schriro, the newly appointed Special Advisor on Detention and Removal for the Department of Homeland Security.  Renee Feltz, FSRN.

CA considers fuel standards could be bad for biofuels
The California Air Resources Board is examining groundbreaking low-carbon fuel standards that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  But proponents of ethanol say the proposed regulation unfairly targets the biofuel. Kellia Ramares has more:

The Low Carbon Fuel Standard calls for a reduction of at least 10 percent in the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by 2020.  The proposed standard would not only include the direct affect of using the fuels, but the carbon intensity of the manufacturing process.  This puts ethanol at a huge disadvantage. When the carbon intensity of using diesel-based machinery to grow and ship corn-based ethanol is factored in, non-local ethanol is worse than gasoline.  Ethanol manufacturers think that measuring the carbon intensity of biofuel production is unfair. But Roland Wong of the Natural Resources Defense Council says life cycle accounting is needed to get biofuels right:

“It’s absolutely critical that California moves forward with these sort of groundbreaking global warming policies. That we do honest, accurate, transparent greenhouse gas accounting. We cannot be ignoring critical emissions just because they’re not happening within our borders.”

The Board is expected to vote on the regulation today.  Kellia Ramares.  FSRN.  Oakland.

Over-the-counter Plan B to be available to 17 year olds
The morning after pill will soon be available to 17-year olds without a prescription.  The Food and Drug Administration says it will not appeal a judge’s decision overturning a Bush administration rule making 17-year-olds get a prescription for the birth control drug.

Transgendered teen’s killer convicted of hate crime; sentenced to life
A Colorado jury took less than 2 hours yesterday to convict the murderer of a transgender teen.  The ruling raises hope for advocates of federal hate crimes legislation currently being considered by Congress.  FSRN’s Maeve Conran reports.

The jury found Allen Andrade guilty of first-degree murder and a bias motivated – or hate crime – for brutally beating Angie Zapata to death last July.   18-year-old Zapata was born male but had been living as a woman for most of her life.  She was brutally beaten to death in her Greeley Colorado apartment after Andrade found out she was biologically male.  This is likely the first time a hate crime law has been used in the case of a murder of a transgender person.  The judge sentenced Andrade to life without parole. GLBT activists are hopeful that this case, which was tried in a rural, largely conservative county, will raise awareness about the need for a federal hate crime statutes protecting gay and transgender people. The most recent legislative attempt is The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act of 2009 – or Mathew Shepherd Bill – currently before the House Judiciary Committee.  Maeve Conran.  FSRN.  Colorado.

Suicide bombings in Iraq kill 70

Two suicide bomb attacks in Iraq killed more than 70 people today.  One of the bombs targeted a crowd of Iraqi police in Baghdad, killing 28 officers.  The other bomb exploded at a restaurant in Diyala province and appears to have been targeting Iranian pilgrims.

EU cracks down on credit agencies; considers extending copyright protections

Under new rules approved today by the European Union, all credit rating agencies must register and come under government supervision.  The EU partially blames the credit rating companies for the economic fall-out – saying they were too slow to sound the alarm about the high risk of the sub-prime mortgage market in the US.     The EU says the provisions – such as publishing their ratings methodology – will help prevent conflicts of interest between the ratings agencies and the companies that pay to be rated.

In other news from the EU… Under European law, Bobby Darin’s 1959 record of the year – Mack the Knife – would lose its copyright protection in Europe this year.  But the Union is considering a new plan to extend the copyright on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years.  The plan includes provisions to ensure artists will get at least 20% of the additional proceeds from royalties.  Critics say a copyright extension will largely benefit record companies.  The EU could vote as soon as tomorrow.



Bush-era torture warnings ignored
The 200 page Senate report on Bush-era interrogation tactics indicates officials within the Administration, the CIA and the military expressed concern about the use of torture on detainees in US custody.  High level officials, including then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, were made aware of concerns, but the Administration ignored the complaints. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

Mortgage reform debate on Capitol Hill

Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee wrangled over the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009. Democrats say it would protect consumers against bad loans. Republicans argue that it would hurt lenders – and some consumer advocates say the legislation doesn’t go far enough.  FSRN’s Karen Miller has more.

UCLA animal researchers, supporters, hold “pro-test” on campus
Some 400 UCLA scientists and pro-research backers held a march and demonstration at the campus yesterday, voicing their support for animal research, and denouncing the sometimes violent threats their opponents pose against the researchers that use animals in their work. J. David Jentsch, a neurobiologist at UCLA organized the event – his car was set on fire last month outside his home and law enforcement suspects an animal rights group was involved. Jentcsh uses monkeys in his research on drug abuse and schizophrenia, and the monkeys are sometimes killed in the process. Animal rights advocates also attended the rally to denounce such practices. Meanwhile, Linda Green and Kevin Olliff pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of conspiracy, stalking and other crimes against UCLA researchers. They’ve been indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury, and each is being held on nearly half-a-million-dollars bail.

Animal rights activist makes FBI’s most wanted terrorist suspect list

The FBI has added a new suspect to its most wanted terrorist list. Daniel Andreas San Diego is wanted in connection with two bombings in the northern California. San Diego appears third on the FBI’s list of fugitives: first, is Osama Bin Ladin, wanted for the death of thousands of people. Second is Adam Yahiye Gadahn, he’s wanted for treason, and providing material support to Al Qaeda. San Diego, third on the list, is the first domestic suspect ever placed on the last – and isn’t accused of physically harming or killing anyone. FSRN’s Aura Bogado spoke with Stu Sugerman, an activist lawyer in Portland, Oregon about the charges.

California tribe sues for destruction of cultural sites

For many American Indian tribes, gaining federal recognition can be a Catch 22. Without this status, tribes lose federal benefits, and some of the ability that comes with them to protect their lands from government projects. With federal recognition comes the risk of getting mired in issues of sovereignty. Many tribes and the Government Accountability Office have criticized the recognition criteria for being too inconsistent and unclear. One tribe not recognized by the fed is the Winnemem Wintu of Shasta County, California. The tribe says that despite what their federal status may be, they’re simply tired of being ignored. This week, the tribe’s lawyers filed a lawsuit accusing six federal agencies and two agency heads of damaging or destroying numerous cultural sites near Mount Shasta. The suit charges that the agencies’ actions amount to what they say is “cultural annihilation.” The lawsuit isn’t demanding recognition outright, but that status may be necessary if the Winnemem are to have a voice in their future. Without a voice, they say, their way of life could soon cease to exist. From Sacramento, FSRN’s Marc Dadigan reports.

Life for Pakistani migrants in Dubai
Some 50 Afghan men faced a tragic death earlier this month,  when they attempted to migrate, illegally, to the Middle-East for better job opportunities: the men suffocated in the back of a truck in Pakistan. Thousands of Pakistani and Afghan men make this treacherous journey every year and while some die on their way, many make it to cities like Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.Once there, they are forced to work long hours in the blazing heat, often for less than $200 dollars a month. Many will not return to their home countries for years. FSRN’S Puck Lo reads for our correspondent Gabe Matthews, who recently traveled to Dubai, where he met Pakistani workers and asked them what life is really like for migrant workers.

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